The importance of embracing equity is the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day. I believe this is key to unlocking better outcomes for both individuals and businesses in the months and years ahead.
We’ve been talking about diversity and inclusion for many years, but equity goes beyond this focus on representation.
While equality is about everyone getting the same resources regardless of their starting point, equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and may need different resources and opportunities to reach an equal outcome. Without equity, reaching equality is a more difficult challenge.
At Randstad, we're proud to embrace equity and hope we can play a role in opening up a broader dialogue around the issue. This will help businesses understand how they can build workplaces where all people can thrive, regardless of who they are.
the business benefits of equity
Talent scarcity is a major labor market trend that makes equity a business imperative. Without it, companies can miss out on huge pools of talent.
For example, it’s important for firms to assess whether the percentage of women who are seen as high performers with high potential correlates with the number of women in leadership positions. If not, they should reflect on the barriers that are preventing women from making progress.
In addition to opening up new talent pools, equity in the workplace can also lead to a more innovative, effective and productive workforce. When everyone feels like they belong and have equal opportunities, they can contribute their unique perspectives and ideas, leading to better outcomes and results for the organization. It isn't just the right thing to prioritize — it's also good for business.
By promoting fairness and equal opportunities for all employees regardless of their background, identity or status, equity can lead to a more diverse and inclusive workplace, where employees feel valued and respected.
The opposite is also true. A company’s lack of alignment with their existing and potential employees' personal values means they could be missing out on highly skilled staff.
Our research for the Workmonitor report, which gathers the views of 35,000 workers from around the world, shows that some 42% of survey respondents would not accept a job offer from a company whose values do not align with theirs.
Equity can also lead to better job satisfaction and productivity, as employees who feel that they are being treated fairly and equitably are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work.
It also helps prevent discrimination and bias, thereby creating a more positive and supportive work environment for all, and enabling better collaboration, communication and teamwork.
fostering a culture of equity
Creating equity at work requires active listening and a commitment to seek to understand, avoid assumptions and encourage dialogue within the organization. Root cause analysis on equity can help leaders to understand the source of any potential issues — from skills gaps to evidence of unconscious bias — and remove barriers for further participation.
The next step for business leaders looking to refine their workplace culture is to define a common goal and create a measurable action plan to reach more equitable outcomes.
Providing training on diversity, inclusive leadership and unconscious bias are all initiatives that can improve work culture and help minority groups reach their full potential.
How do we measure equity? By looking at indicative data, like staff retention rates and any significant differences between genders, promotions rates compared with men, and the diversity of qualified women in the external bench when recruiting from outside.
Companies that measure their successes can also benchmark their progress against similar businesses, track their own advances over time, and share their successes publicly.
ambassadors and allies
It’s not all about numbers, though. Being human sits at the heart of embracing equity. Leaders can be ambassadors for equity by touching the hearts and minds of their teams, through sharing stories and leading by example.
As leaders, we need to be the change we want to see in the company, and be ahead of the change curve.
Sponsorship is one way of drawing alongside people, offering them a sounding board and affirming their potential. This can significantly increase self-confidence and have an important impact on career progression.
Allyship — where someone deliberately draws alongside a minority group, listens to their experiences and calls out any potential injustice — is another important tool.
It’s something we can all do to ensure that no-one feels invisible at work: anyone can show up for — and speak up for — underrepresented groups by visibly celebrating and valuing diversity.
My personal objective is to foster an environment in which everyone feels encouraged to dream more, learn more, achieve more and become more.
And it is my belief that the whole organization will benefit by creating this sort of culture.
On International Women’s Day, I encourage leaders to think again about the latent talent that exists within their workforce, and to embrace equity as a way of helping everyone flourish.